The Paradox of the Positive: Re-Examining American Independence Day

Ever since I moved to Belfast I’ve made a point of celebrating the Fourth of July, Independence Day. While I quickly learned that the parades from my childhood don’t have the same meaning here, I clung to and adapted other traditions that were a bit more portable and less sectarianized; namely, beer and barbecued meat. Also, the wearing of red, white and blue, but done discreetly, and without obvious American flag emblems masquerading as clothing (I’m looking at you, bizarre, … Read more

Evil, I think, is the absence of empathy…

As America continues its depressing slow drift into Fascism this quote caught my eye: “In my work with the defendants (at the Nuremberg Trails 1945-1949) I was searching for the nature of evil and I now think I have come close to defining it. A lack of empathy. It’s the one characteristic that connects all the defendants, a genuine incapacity to feel with their fellow men. Evil, I think, is the absence of empathy.” Quotation: Captain G. M. Gilbert, the Army psychologist … Read more

Brexit bites as EU workers start to say screw you UK we are outa here…

time to move on

If there is one advantage to having kids it is that it does increase your circle of friends. Humans need social contact, especially when going through the misery joy of having your first child. We compare notes with other parents, we sympathise when they tell you their baby is not sleeping even though inside we are delighted that at least our kid is not as bad as there’s. We force a smile when another parent tells us how their little … Read more

US public attitudes towards Jewish immigrants fleeing Hitler’s Germany in 1938…

One of the earliest examples of a major opinion poll, I’m just putting this here for historical context… It’s a long way from there to the more generous wartime nostrums of Casablanca. (Direct democracy advocates, take note?) Mick FealtyMick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty

As UKIP turns its own immigration policy on its head, something has changed…

I’ll preface this #SluggerReport with a link to a personal story from an old friend Bernie Duffy (whose personal adventures in migration I suspect would fill several volumes over and over… It illustrates very well on a personal level the unexpected comprehensiveness of the migrant/refugee crisis, and how it has caught public discourse (in the UK and to a lesser extent Ireland) severely on the hop… And not just David Cameron, but the case of UKIP (a party capable of … Read more

Immigration and the Inequality Agenda

Belfast PUP Councillor Dr John Kyle writes exclusively for Slugger on the issue of immigration  Loyalist communities could be forgiven for feeling rather confused these days. The Conservative and Labour parties are outdoing one another in their proposals to control immigration. Both are saying that they failed to recognise the problems created by uncontrolled immigration, particularly for working class communities. The Labour Party in particular has criticised recruitment agencies which have recruited almost exclusively from Eastern European countries. However Loyalist … Read more

Essay: ‘All political careers end in failure’ – the legacy of Enoch Powell

My assumption is that it must have been quite an election.  I can only assume, as I had not even been conceived, let alone born, then, but the contest around the UK had far-reaching implications for both Britain and Ireland.  Polling exactly forty years ago today – barely eight months after the previous general election – resulted in Harold Wilson and the Labour Party being re-elected (though only just), and Tory leader Ted Heath’s political career being effectively over.  Heath … Read more

[Positive] attitudes in the Republic towards immigration are plummetting

One of the markers of the rise of the extreme right across Europe has been a concomitant drop in positive attitudes towards immigration. And, according to a new study of 12 European countries from the University of Limerick, the Republic has seen the most dramatic change: Ireland, with Greece, experienced the largest decrease in positive attitudes to allowing immigrants into their countries during the time [2002-2010]. Alongside this change, Ireland had the highest proportion of respondents (49 per cent) who … Read more

Immigration: First they integrated the Catholics then fulminated on multiculturalism…

Fascinating piece on how history progresses beyond the visceral towards the vestigial by my old mucker from Telegraph days, Daniel Hannan. He notes for instance that… The association of Protestantism with national identity led to centuries of institutionalised discrimination and unofficial bigotry. Yet the story ends well. The US quickly overcame its sectarian origins to become the first state on Earth based on total religious freedom. Britain was slower – not until 1829 were Catholics completely equal in law but … Read more

Parliamentary written answer of the week

Another in an occasional series.  An ill-conceived written question can be an opportune moment to remind the questioner of legal technicalities in the State he is in.  From Dáil written answers 3 July. 180. Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the procedures used by an Garda Síochána when establishing the marital status of a Brazilian citizen living here who proposes to get married in this State; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [32318/13]  184. Deputy Gerry Adams asked … Read more

Maybe London should seek its independence along with Scotland?

Here’s a curve ball from the London Evening Standard’s Ian Birrell, who thinks the UK capital is getting unfairly kicked by the rest of England for getting some things right, not least understanding the value of immigration and cultural diversity that arises from it: Curiously, the most prosperous region outside the South is Scotland – which shares London’s social liberalism and greater acceptance of immigrants. For the differences between the capital and the rest of England are about far more … Read more

“The Common Travel Area is only for the benefit of Irish citizens and British nationals”

We never did have that reasoned debate about Schengen…  The Irish Times reports that a Dublin High Court judge has pointed out that Foreign tourists who leave the Republic for a day trip to Northern Ireland, without a passport or visa to enter the UK could, under Irish immigration laws, be refused permission to re-enter the Republic, a judge warned yesterday. The case involves a Bolivian couple, but in the absence of Schengen, it would seem to apply to all non-British … Read more

“We can’t separate Denmark’s announcement from the wider context of what we’ve been seeing the past few weeks”

Another example of domestic political pressure potentially impinging on the “European project”.  This time in Denmark, a member of the Schengen zone, where the government has announced the re-introduction of border guards and spot checks “designed to fight crime and illegal immigration”. From the Wall Street Journal report In Denmark, the issue of tighter border control has become a political bargaining chip. The governing center-right minority government, which consists of a coalition between the Conservatives and liberal-right party Venstre, wants to … Read more

“border control and Schengen governance need to be strengthened to prevent irregular migration”

In the Irish Times Arthur Beesley reports on the European Commission’s recommendations following France and Italy’s call for reform of the Schengen Agreement.  From the Irish Times Formal legislative proposals to revise the Schengen system are likely within the next two months, according a communique on migration [Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmström] issued yesterday. Her paper also calls for the relaxation in emergency situations of the rules under which applications for asylum must be processed in the EU country of first … Read more

“Civilised Europeans could indeed transcend boundaries – but the ‘barbarians’ would be kept resolutely beyond them.”

In the Irish Times Arthur Beesley suggests that the outcome of any review of the Schengen Agreement, as recently called for by France and Italy, will lead to tighter controls of external EU borders – at a time when non-EU countries, particularly in northern Africa,  face increasing civil unrest.  From the Irish Times report …temporary [internal EU] border controls can already be introduced under the existing regime. All that is required to waive the rules for 30 days is the declaration of a “serious threat” … Read more

Seeking asylum is not a crime. The human face of detention.

There has been much, often ill-informed, comment on the airwaves over the last couple of days on the proposed immigration (temporary) detention centre planned by the UK Borders Agency in Larne. Much has come from local residents that foreign nationals being held in secure detention might escape, might take people’s jobs, might lower property values … who knows, they might even start barbecuing swans given half the chance. Of course, the quality of the discourse was hardly helped by the BNP … Read more